The Truth About Your Next Flight Could Shock You, by Travel Radar Correspondent Ben Pesa
Seven things you should always do when traveling by air!
Let’s be honest, we all know that public places are the some of the most unsavoury places when it comes to being exposed to germs and disease-causing pathogens, and there’s especially no avoiding them if you’re an air traveller. Almost every interior part of the plane becomes a hotbed for nasties that build up after each preceding flight.
It’s easy to understand how this happens. You see, airplanes don’t make money sitting on the ground the same way a truck doesn’t make money if its wheels aren’t turning. That means aircraft get turned around in the shortest amount of time possible after it has landed (it could be turned around in as little as twenty minutes) before it is pushed out and sent airborne again. With no time for a deep clean between flights, the cabin is barely disinfected to an acceptable level.
So what can you do to limit your exposure to unwanted germs without having to board a plane covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit? It’s not as difficult as you might think, and although there’s not much you can do about being crammed into the same row with a passenger who has a strong body odour, bad breath or just plain smells bad, here’s a few tips to make your own personal space on a plane a germ-free sanctuary.
- Take your own antibacterial wipes
Believe it or not the lavatory is not the dirtiest place on a plane. It’s right under your nose; the seat back tray table is often used as a diaper change table, or the previous passenger who enjoyed one too many alcoholic beverages leaving a nasty mess (that wasn’t thoroughly cleaned up) on the same table you’re about to dine on. In a study reported by travelmath.com various sites on planes were evaluated in terms of colony forming units per square inch. The tray tables came in at 2155 CFU and the lavatory at 265! Typically your home counter top in the kitchen was 361.
2. Don’t put your hands down the seatback pocket
People tend to use these as their personal trash disposal units. You’d be mortified at what aircraft cleaners find there after passengers have vacated the seats. No need to elaborate here.
3. Bring your own headrest cover
Resting your head in the headrest to get some needed sleep is inevitable especially on long haul journeys. It stands to reason that many before you have also laid their heads in the same spot so it’s definitely good practice to have your own method for covering the headrest to avoid contact with bacteria. However a word of caution here. Don’t drape anything large over the headrest that would cover the entertainment screen of the passenger behind you. It may result in an unhappy exchange.
4. Wear long pants and long sleeves for travel
Since standing for the duration of the flight isn’t an option, a good way to avoid skin to seat contact and contact with all other parts of the airplane including your sweaty neighbour is to wear long sleeves and long pants.
5. Keep your shoes on and avoid walking around the cabin barefoot
While it’s nice to free your weary feet from those constricting shoes, the cabin floor harbours a concentration of bacteria and pathogens from dirt and other passengers’ bare feet. Keeping your shoes on will help to keep you and the germs separate.
6. Keep the overhead air vent open
Keep the air vent open is a good idea for several reasons. To have fresh air blowing for the duration of the flight and it can also help to keep nasty airborne germs away since you’re in confined space, especially if there is a serial cougher within close proximity.
7. Skip the free tea and coffee
The water used for inflight tea and coffee comes through a tap that passes through multiple channels and holding tanks that are hard to clean. Although the water quality is probably safe enough for human consumption, it’s always wise to only drink from bottled or sealed bottles or containers to avoid ingesting any mystery parasites.
You should treat airplanes as you would any other public place. Practising good common-sense hygiene will ensure you get to your destination in good health. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
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